Natural disasters are a source of economic risks in many countries, especially in smaller and lower-income states, and ex-ante preparedness is needed to manage the risks. The paper discusses sovereign experience with disaster insurance as a key instrument to mitigate the risks; proposes ways to judge the adequacy of insurance; and considers ways to enhance its use by vulnerable countries. The paper especially aims to inform policy decisions on disaster insurance. Through simulations of natural disasters and various insurance options, we find that sovereign decisions on optimal risk transfer involve balancing trade-offs between growth and debt, based on government risk preferences and country risk exposure. The choice of optimal insurance for smaller countries turns out to be more constrained by cost considerations due to their higher exposure, likely resulting in underinsurance; donor grants could help them achieve a more optimal protection. We also find that optimal insurance packages are those that are least costly relative to expected payouts (i.e. have the lowest insurance multiple), which are also the packages that insure less severe (more frequent) disasters.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This Selected Issues paper presents a quantification of the long-term benefits of ex-ante resilient investment and insurance needs against natural disasters (ND) in Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU). Cost-benefit analysis of resilient investment based on a dynamic stochastic general equilibrium model tailored to small states and calibrated to all ECCU economies is also discussed in the paper. The model’s aggregate production function illustrates the interaction among the participating sectors and their contribution to output, ultimately informing the role of resilient investment. The study also quantifies government insurance coverage needs and costs using an empirical stochastic model that simulates NDs fiscal costs. The insurance needs are framed within the World Bank insurance layering framework. The results in this paper underscore the importance of a shift from ex-post recovery to a focus on ex-ante resilience building. Ex-ante resilient investment and insurance are key to the welfare and financial sustainability of the ECCU, given high intensity and recurrence of NDs.
Mr. Udaibir S Das, Richard Podpiera, and Nigel Davies
This paper explores insurance as a source of financial system vulnerability. It provides a brief overview of the insurance industry and reviews the risks it faces, as well as several recent failures of insurance companies that had systemic implications. Assimilation of banking-type activities by life insurers appears to be the key systemic vulnerability. Building on this experience and the experience gained under the FSAP, the paper proposes key indicators that should be compiled and used for surveillance of financial soundness of insurance companies and the insurance sector as a whole.